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Friday, September 5, 2014

fight or flight

       So we have all heard of this concept but how many know what it means and how it might be related to chronic disease?  Anxiety, for me, really became an issue during the time I was patiently (pun intended) waiting for someone, anyone to figure out what was causing the many symptoms that would later be revealed to be due to RA.  
     However during the interim I was being passed from doctor to doctor and told that it was probably all due to stress.  Knowing that what I felt was quite real only intensified my anxiety and to this day I am paying the piper. 
 Once the diagnosis was made it certainly eased my mind but the fact was the damage was done in terms of anxiety triggers. I suffer with it to this day and lately it has reared its ugly head again and I am trying to work through it.
     Just around the time I began to have RA symptoms which went undiagnosed for some time I began to have feelings of butterflies in my chest...sounds strange I know but that is the best way for me to describe it.  No pain, no other issues that could lead one to think it was heart disease, etc.  That said, I had an EKG done following a sudden, unprovoked panic attack.  Long story short a series of tests were done to ensure that it was not my heart and in the end due to some elevated heart rate issues I went on Toprol XL and have been on it for about 15 years.  No heart problems surfaced and it was great that was ruled out.  Fast forward to a few weeks ago.  I had gone off the Torprol in March when I had my para esophageal hiatal hernia repair and have been doing great ever since.  No issues at all.  Well, one afternoon I had a rather abrupt sensation of an increased heart rate and took my blood pressure and heart rate check myself.  It was not overly high considering my elevated anxiety response (only hit 99) and went back down to the low 80's within an hour.  Blood pressure was perfect.  So I thought well let's just chalk that up to the crazy pace and stress of late....just suffice it to say that there has been a LOT going on and leave it at that.  All good I might add.  At any rate, since then I periodically get this weird sensation that I had not experienced in 15 years back again and it is wearing me down.
     I am so disappointed that after all of this time this nasty, nagging anxiety cycle has resumed.  And what really has me concerned is that it tends to be a downward spiral that can be very difficult to crawl up out of.  
     Most frustrating of all is why now? I have surely had small episodes of anxiety over the years but nothing with such a physical response that brings back bad memories and fears I would sure like to keep packed away never to be seen again!

     I know in my head the way stress works and plays with my mind but knowing it in my head and controlling my thoughts about it are two very different things!
     With that comes this sense of impending doom and absurd thoughts of death, fear, etc. that take control of my time, my life and my days.  So hate this cycle and would give anything to not ever have it happen again.
     I firmly believe that root of all of it goes back to the extended period of uncertainty associated with RA and I also believe that it accounts for how under extreme periods of stress (good or bad) it resurfaces now and then.  I am trying my best this time around to handle it with some tools that have proved helpful in the past.  Fingers crossed they work this time.   The pattern of stress and the way it effects your mind and body can be overwhelming and paralyzing.
     So for me anything that takes my mind off it, from massage to guided imagery to exercise and time with friends usually grants me some relief and hopefully will do the trick this time....
     We have enough to manage with the day to day demands of RA.  I will muster all of my will to see to it that anxiety does not rob me of the joy and happiness I strive to enjoy each day.

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